Dinner tonight was venison tenderloin with a blackberry and red wine pan sauce and spiced collard greens. I’ve been in the hospital taking care of G. Mom all week, and for my first night back I thought that cooking a good meal would be a nice way to calm and center myself. I really enjoy venison, and I saw tit being cooked on Masterchef this week, so I made a special trip to pick some up at the Wegmans in Princeton, NJ before heading up north. I don’t make a ton of sauces, because I usually enjoy eating my meat just salted and well-cooked (not well-done!) but today I wanted to push myself a bit, so I also grabbed some blackberries and pinot noir, which I thought would make for a tasty sauce.
Venison is a delightful protein, unless you overcook it, in which case you end up with a chewy lump of disappointment and sadness that looks, feels, and tastes like a softened hockey puck. My secret weapon for venison is the immersion circulator – sous vide venison is absolutely foolproof. I started by sous viding two gorgeous venison tenderloins from Dartagnan for two hours at 117.5F with my Anova Precision Cooker. Once they were cooled I seared them for just seconds on each side in a hot pan. I let them rest, and waited to slice them up until I was ready to plate.
Once the meat was done, I gathered the following ingredients for the sauce:
- A tablespoon of salted butter
- The drippings from the bag in which I cooked the venison
- One shallot, finely diced
- Two cloves of garlic, minced
- A sprinkle of rubbed sage
- A generous pour of Pinot noir
- A small handful of fresh blackberries
- Pomegranate balsamic vinegar (I have one from Carter and Cavero that is delicious)
- A tablespoon or so of beef bullion
- About two teaspoons of apricot and passion fruit jam
I added the butter and drippings from the sous vide bag to the skillet I seared the tenderloins in, and then sweated the shallot and garlic with some salt and the powdered sage. When they were tender I poured in a good amount of wine, and crushed a few blackberries by hand and dropped them, like I do with canned tomatoes when I’m making a red sauce. I added some rich, sweet and tangy pomegranate balsamic vinegar, a splash of water, and the beef bullion. It needed a little more sweetness, so I spooned in the jam. When the sauce tasted right, I strained it and put it into a small sauce pan over low heat to thicken up a bit.
For the collard greens side dish, I used the pressure cook setting on my Instant Pot to give it that stewed all day texture. I used:
- About two tablespoons of butter
- About a teaspoon of crushed methi seeds (fenugreek)
- A few shakes of a Berbere spice blend (an Ethiopian spice mix with cinnamon, pepper, ginger, cardamom, paprika, and other seasonings)
- One yellow onion, diced
- Two cloves of garlic, minced
- A splash of cooking sake
- The juice from one lemon
- A big bag of fresh chopped collard greens
- A splash of water
I started by warming the methi seeds and Berbere mix in butter on the sauté setting, then added a diced onion and some garlic. I deglazed with some sake, then added a big bag of chopped collard greens, the juice from one lemon and a little water and mushroom bullion, and cooked under pressure for five minutes.
I plated the collards, then the sliced venison. I added a sprinkling of goat cheese to the plate, as I always do with this protein – I just love having a taste of the creamy, tangy goat cheese with venison. I finished with the sauce, and rushed through taking pictures so I could stuff my face! The venison was perfectly rare, and doing it sous vide gives you a delightfully soft texture. The sauce was sweet but rich and meaty too, and it had some some acidity from the vinegar, and adding a bit of creamy goat cheese really rounded out the meat. The collards were a lovely stewed texture, and just mildly spiced with some earthy flavors that made them a lovely side dish that still let the star (the venison and sauce) really shine.